The god of this age [Satan] has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. -2 Corinthians 4:4 (NIV)
I can testify that until I was saved, the world and all its lies were undoubtably real and true. My senses did not lie to me, nor did my sense of morality. I would’ve considered myself quite perceptive and aware of how the world worked.
Oh, how God turned that all upside down when he pulled the wool off my eyes and showed me what it really meant to see beyond my eyes and mind!
Back in high school, I was fortunate enough to take a class in philosophy. (And when you’re not saved, what a head trip that is!) And in that class, I read about the famous Allegory of the Cave in Plato’s The Republic.
Seeing is believing…
In this allegory, imagine adults who have been imprisoned in a cave since childhood. They are chained in such a way that they are all facing the cave wall in front of them, and their bodies and heads are fixed so they cannot look around, or at each other.
At some distance behind these prisoners is a fire, or light source. In between the fire and the prisoners is a short wall with a walkway next to it, and free men—who stay out of sight under the wall—carry objects along the top of the wall. These objects cast shadows onto the cave wall in front of the prisoners. The free men also talk, and their voices echo off the same cave wall into the ears of the prisoners.
These prisoners, who have known nothing else but what is before them, are living in what they believe is reality. It completely real to them. Their eyes see shapes and their ears hear sounds.
…until a taste of truth is had…
But suppose one prisoner is unshackled and is made to turn and look at the fire. His eyes would hurt from such intense light, and he could not clearly see the objects that were casting the shadows. If he were told that what he was looking at his whole life was not real, but these painful things he’s squinting at now are, he would run back in disbelief to the comfortable view he’s known.
…and especially when the ultimate truth is shown.
Now, suppose that same prisoner is forcibly dragged out of the cave. The searing sunlight would cause him to feel anger and pain, only getting worse as it blinds him.
But, eventually, his eyes start to adjust. He first sees shadows, then reflections of people and things in the water, and then the actual people and things they were reflections of. Eventually, he can see the moon and the stars and night, and the sun. Once he is able to look straight into the sun, he can start to understand what it is and reason about it.
This former prisoner would correctly conclude that what he saw was true and real, not what he’d been experiencing previously in the cave. So he wants to free the others in the cave!
But as he reenters the dark cave, he is blind again, but because his eyes are now conditioned from living in the light. The prisoners in the cave conclude that the newly free man’s exit from their world of the cave is what caused his blindness…and if they were able, they would kill anyone attempting to drag them out of the cave.
As it is with our world.
As believers, we have returned to the cave along with billions of people whose minds and hearts are fooled by the enemy into believing, beyond the shadow of a doubt (pun intended), that what they perceive is irrefutable. The enemy makes unwitting pawns of them to perpetuate these lies through marketing, cultural trends, and so on.
The few of us who have been freed of the shackles, sackcloths taken off our heads, see beyond the echoes and shadows. We see the world as it is. And sometimes it seems like, try as we may, we are only met with hostility and resentment from a world convinced that we are the ones who need to snap back to reality.
But Jesus was clear in proclaiming the Great Commission:
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” -Matthew 28:16-20 (ESV)
We continue to fight the good fight. I personally believe we act as embedded operatives and prudently await windows of opportunity when God says, “Now!” to speak His truth to hearing ears and seeing eyes. This is why it’s crucial that in thought, word, and deed, that we do our best to His glory as His ambassadors.
His light we carry is like the light in the cave. It is just a taste of His ultimate light, which, once experienced, no one would ever want to leave…and would want the blind and deceived to see.